FOOTSTEPS TO MURDER

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CHAPTER THREE: THE STUDY

The door to Third’s study was opened and the two detectives entered and looked down at the chalk outline on the carpeted floor, showing where the body had fallen and died, with five bullets in its torso.

Above a huge baronial fireplace there was a large portrait of an heroic looking Third, striking a statesmanlike pose.

’So this is where Third got it.’

’Yes, it was his final act, chief.’ He paused. ’Who’d have thought it could have come to this. Someone like Third, cut down in his prime.’

Moose looked from the chalk mark to the larger than life portrait on the wall. ’Yes; see how the mighty fall.’

Clayton looked around the room. ’And this was his study.’

’Aye.’

’A study! It’s the size of a bowling alley.’

‘Yes; he liked his elbow room.’

It was indeed a huge room, of the type that a messianic dictator might have been happy with; so that he could cow and overawe visiting guests and officials. Aside from the self-aggrandizing portrait of himself, there was a bust of Napoleon, on a plinth, and a large print of the Iron Chancellor, Otto Von Bismarck, in military uniform. There was a print of the dreadful Mongolian warlord, Genghis Khan, and an imaginative Nineteenth Century painting of the mythological God, Odin. There were pictures of Third meeting various world dignitaries; including a US President, Premier Blurb and his predecessor, the Pope, foreign statesmen, fellow businessmen, and various crotchety intellectuals and economists who were on his political wavelength. Aside from these images there were also pictures and prints of hunting scenes.

There was a shelf full of weighty rightwing books extolling Western imperialism, ruthless corporate capitalism and a neocon world agenda.

There was a drinks cabinet, an expensive set of china in a display cabinet, antique vases and rococo figurines; and a grandfather clock, its pendulum ponderously swinging to and fro, unmoved by life or death, as it meticulously marked the passage of the days and hours.

There was an exercise bike and a pin ball machine, a window that looked out on a generous view of the island, and a pair of French windows that led onto an adjacent terrace. There was also, in another glass case, a collection of shooting trophies and cups that Third, a noted shot - with rifle, shotgun and pistol - had won at various competitions and events around the word.

Clayton turned and looked at the striking portrait of Third on the wall.

’Quite a presence wasn’t he?’ said Moose.

’Aye. I wouldn’t fancy coming across someone like that down a dark alley.’

’Well, it’s something you won’t have to worry about now.’

Clayton looked back at the ominous chalk mark. ’Yes; death caught up with him here, inspector. He couldn’t buy his way out of that one, no matter how much he had in the bank.’

’It’s a lesson for all of us, Eddie. Make the most of things before the grim reaper gets you.’

’Well that’s my philosophy in a nutshell.’

’I’ll have a word with her Ladyship. Ask her if I can use one of her rooms to interview the suspects.’

’Yeah. Let’s get the ball rolling.’

And on that hopeful note they left the room.

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